Praha n : the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic in the western part of the countryi; a cultural and commercial center since the 14th century [syn: Prague, Prag, Czech capital]
EtymologyFrom pražit—to fry
- Prague, the capital of Czech Republic.
EtymologyFrom pražiť—to fry
Proper nounPraha , Prahe dative, locative
Prague (, lang-cs Praha (), see also other names), is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Its official name is Hlavní město Praha, meaning Prague - the Capital City.
Situated on the River Vltava in central Bohemia, Prague has been the political, cultural, and economic centre of the Czech state for over 1100 years. The city proper is home to more than 1.2 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 1.9 million.
Prague is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and is among the most visited cities on the continent. Though it suffered one large bombing raid during the Second World War, it largely escaped the utter destruction which befell so many European cities during that period and emerged largely intact. Since 1992, the extensive historic centre of Prague has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. According to Guinness World Records, Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world. Nicknames for Prague have included "the mother of cities" (Praga mater urbium, or "Praha matka měst" in Czech)", "city of a hundred spires" and "the golden city". Prague was a candidate city for the 2016 Olympics.
HistoryThe history of Prague spans over thousands of years, during which time the city grew from the Vyšehrad Castle to the multicultural capital of a modern European state, the Czech Republic.
Ancient PragueThe area on which Prague was founded was settled in ancient times since the Paleolithic Age. Around 200 BCE the Celts had a settlement in the south, called Závist, but later they were replaced by Germanic tribes. The Slavs conquered the site from the 4th century CE onward, though for a period were subdued by the Eurasian Avars. According to a legend, Prague was founded by the Princess Libuše and her husband, Přemysl, founder of the dynasty with the same name. Whether this legend is true or not, Prague's first nucleus was founded in the latter part of the 9th century as a castle on a hill commanding the right bank of the Vltava: this is known as Vyšehrad ("high castle") to differentiate from another castle which was later erected on the opposite bank, the future Prague Castle. Soon the city became the seat of the dukes and kings of Bohemia. It was an important seat for trading where merchants coming from all Europe settled, including many Jews, as recalled in 965 by the Jewish merchant and traveller Ibrahim ibn Ya'qub. The Old New Synagogue of 1270 survives. The city became a bishopric in 973.
King Vladislav II had a first bridge on the Vltava built in 1170, the Judith Bridge, which crumbled down in 1342. The Charles Bridge was later built on its foundations.
In 1257, under King Otakar II, Malá Strana ("Lesser Quarter") was founded in Prague in the future Hradčany area: it was the district of the German people. These had the right to administrate the law autonomously, pursuant to Magdeburg Rights. The new district was on the opposite bank of the Staré Město ("Old Town"), which had a borough status and was defended by a line of walls and fortifications.
The era of Charles IV
The city flourished during the 14th century reign of Charles IV of the new Luxembourg dynasty. He ordered the building of the New Town (Nové Město) adjacent to the Old Town. The Charles Bridge was erected to connect the new district to Malá Strana. Monuments by Charles include the Saint Vitus Cathedral, the oldest gothic cathedral in central Europe, which is actually inside the Castle, and the Charles University. The latter is the oldest university in central Europe. Prague was then the third-largest city in Europe. Under Charles Prague was, from 1355, the actual capital of the Holy Roman Empire, and its rank was elevated to that of archbishopric (1344). It had a mint, and German and Italian merchants, as well as bankers, were present in the city. The social order, however, became more turbulent due to the rising power of the craftsmen's guild (themselves often torn by internal fights), and the presence of increasing number of poor people.
Under King Wenceslas IV (1378-1419) Jan Hus, a theologian and lector at the University, held his preachers and sermons in Prague. Since 1402 he summoned his followers in the Bethlehem Chapel, speaking in Czech language in order to enlarge as much as possible the diffusion of his ideas about the renovation of the church. Having become too dangerous for the political and religious establishment, Hus was burned in Konstanz in 1415. Four years later Prague experienced its first defenestration, when the people rebelled under the command of the Prague priest Jan Želivský and threw the city's counsellors from the New Town Hall. Hus' death had spurred the so-called Hussite Wars. In 1420 peasant rebels, led by the famous general Jan Žižka, along with Hussite troops from Prague, defeated the Bohemian King Sigismund, in the Battle of Vítkov Hill.
In the following two centuries Prague strengthened its role as a merchant city. Many noteworthy Gothic buildings were erected, including the Vladislav Hall of the Prague Castle.
The Habsburg eraIn 1526 the Kingdom of Bohemia was handed over to the House of Habsburg: the fervent Catholicism of its members was to have grievous consequences in Bohemia, and then in Prague, where Protestant ideas were having instead increasing success . These problems were not preeminent under Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II, elected King of Bohemia in 1576, who chose Prague as his home. He lived in the Prague Castle where he held his bizarre courts of astrologers, magicians, and other strange figures. Rudolf was an art lover too and Prague became the capital of European culture. This was a prosperous period for the city: famous people living there in that age include the astronomers Tycho Brahe and Johann Kepler, the painter Arcimboldo, the alchemists Edward Kelley and John Dee, the poetess Elizabeth Jane Weston, and others.
In 1618 the famous Defenestration of Prague provoked the Thirty Years' War. Ferdinand II of Habsburg was deposed, and his place as King of Bohemia taken by Frederick V, Elector Palatine. But the Czech army was crushed in the Battle of White Mountain (1620), not far from the city, and thenceforth Prague and Bohemia lived a harsh period in which religious tolerance was abolished and Catholic Counter-Reformation became dominant in every aspect of life. In 1621 there was an execution of 27 Czech lords (involved in the Battle of White Mountain) in the Old Town Square. The city suffered also under Saxon (1631) and Swedish (1648) occupation. Moreover, after the Peace of Westphalia of the latter year, Ferdinand moved the court to Vienna, and Prague began a steady decline which reduced the population from the 60,000 it had had in the years before the war to 20,000.
In 1689 a great fire devastated Prague, but this spurred a renovation and a rebuilding of the city. The economic rise continued through the following century, and the city in 1771 had 80,000 inhabitants. Many of these were rich merchants who, together with noblemen of German, Spanish and even Italian origin, enriched the city with a host of palaces, churches and gardens, creating a Baroque style renowned throughout the world. In 1784, under Joseph II, the four municipalities of Malá Strana, Nové Město, Staré Město and Hradcany were merged into a single entity. The Jewish district, called Josefov, was included only in 1850. The Industrial Revolution had a strong effect in Prague, as factories could take advantage of the coal mines and ironworks of the nearby region. A first suburb, Karlín, was created in 1817, and twenty years later population exceeded 100,000. The first railway connection was built in 1842.
The revolutions that shocked all Europe around 1848 touched Prague too, but they were fiercely suppressed. In the following years the Czech nationalist movement (opposed to another nationalist party, the German one) began its rise, until it gained the majority in the Town Council in 1861.
20th centuryAt the beginning of the 20th century Czech lands were the most productive part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and some Czech politics began with attempts to separate it from Habsburg empire.
- article about First Republic of Czechoslovakia
Second World War
- article about the Occupation of Czechoslovakia
Prague in the Cold WarPrague was a city in the territory of military and political control of Soviet Union (see Iron Curtain). It, however, suffered under the totalitarian regime, in spite of the rather careful program of rebuilding and caring of the damaged monuments after World War II. The 4th Czechoslovakian Writers' Congress held in the city in 1967 took a strong position against the regime. This spurred the new secretary of the Communist Party, Alexander Dubček to proclaim a new deal in his city's and country's life, starting the short-lived season of the "socialism with a human face". It was the Prague Spring, which aimed at the renovation of institutions in a democratic way. The Soviet Union and its allies reacted with the invasion of Czechoslovakia and the capital in August 1968 by 7,000 tanks, suppressing any attempt at renovation.
Era after the Velvet RevolutionIn 1989, after riot police beat back a peaceful student demonstration, the Velvet Revolution crowded the streets of Prague and the Czech capital benefited greatly of the new mood. In 1993, after the split of Czechoslovakia, Prague became the capital city of the new Czech Republic. In the late 90's Prague became again an important cultural centre of Europe and was notably influenced by globalization). In 2000 anti-globalization protests in Prague (some 15,000 protesters) turned violent during the IMF and World Bank summits. In 2002 Prague suffered from widespread flooding.
Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, Prague has become one of Europe's (and the world's) most popular tourist destinations. It is the sixth most-visited European city after London, Paris, Rome, Madrid and Berlin. Prague suffered considerably less damage during World War II than some other major cities in the region, allowing most of its historic architecture to stay true to form. It contains one of the world's most pristine and varied collections of architecture, from Art Nouveau to Baroque, Renaissance, Cubist, Gothic, Neo-Classical and ultra-modern. Some of the most known sights are:
- Old Town (Staré Město) with its Old Town Square
- The Astronomical Clock
- The picturesque Charles Bridge
- The vaulted gothic Old New Synagogue of 1270.
- New Town (Nové město) with its busy and historic Wenceslas Square
- Malá Strana (Lesser Quarter)
- Prague Castle (the largest castle in the world) with its St. Vitus Cathedral
- Josefov (the old Jewish quarter) with Old Jewish Cemetery and Old New Synagogue
- Jan Žižka equestrian statue in Vítkov park, Žižkov - Prague 3.
- The Lennon Wall
- The museum of Heydrich assassination in the crypt of the Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius
- National Museum
- Vyšehrad castle
- Petřínská rozhledna, an observation tower on Petřín hill, which resembles the Eiffel Tower
- Anděl (neighborhood) which is probably the busiest part of the city with a super modern shopping mall and architecture
- Žižkov Television Tower with observation deck - Prague 3.
- The New Jewish Cemetery in Olšany, location of Franz Kafka's grave - Prague 3.
- The Metronome, a giant, functional metronome that looms over the city
- The Dancing House (Fred and Ginger Building)
- The Mucha Museum, showcasing the Art Nouveau works of Alfons Mucha
- Places connected to writers living in the city, such as Franz Kafka (One popular destination is the Franz Kafka museum)
CulturePrague is traditionally one of the cultural centres of Europe, hosting many cultural events.
Significant cultural institutions:
- National Theatre
- Estates Theatre, premiere of Mozart's Don Giovanni was held there
- The Rudolfinum (home to the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra)
- State Opera
- National Museum
- Náprstek Museum
- National Library
- National Gallery
Many films have been made at the Barrandov Studios. Hollywood movies set in Prague include Mission Impossible, Blade II and xXx. Among others, Czech films Empties and The Fifth Horseman is Fear were shot in Prague.
Prague restaurant Allegro received the 1st Michelin star in the whole Eastern Europe (post-communist Europe).
EconomyThe GDP per capita of Prague is more than double that of the Czech Republic as a whole, with a per-capita GDP (PPP) of 33,784 (purchasing power standard) in 2004, which is 157.1% of the European Union average, ranking Prague among the 12 richest EU regions , in Purchasing Power. However, the price level is significantly lower than in comparable cities.
The city is the site of the European headquarters of many international companies.
Since the late 1990s, Prague has become a popular filming location for international productions and Hollywood motion pictures. A combination of architecture, low costs and the existing motion picture infrastructure have proved attractive to international film production companies.
Colleges and universitiesThe city contains several universities and colleges:
- Charles University (UK) founded in 1348 (the oldest university in Central and Eastern Europe)
- Czech Technical University (ČVUT) founded in 1707
- Academy of Fine Arts (AVU) founded in 1800
- Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design (VŠUP) founded in 1885
- The New Anglo-American College (AAC) founded in 1990
- Institute of Chemical Technology (VŠCHT) founded in 1920
- Academy of Performing Arts (AMU) founded in 1945
- Czech University of Agriculture (ČZU) founded in 1906/1952
- University of Economics (VŠE) founded in 1953
- Institute of Information Theory and Automation (UTIA) founded in 1959
- University of New York in Praguehttp://www.unyp.cz (UNYP) founded in 1998
The public transport infrastructure consists of an integrated transport system of Prague Metro (with 51 stations in total), Prague Tram System (including the "nostalgic tram" no. 91), buses, the Petřín funicular to Petřín Hill, and three ferries. All services have a common ticketing system, and are run by Prague Public Transit Co. Inc. (Dopravní podnik hl. m. Prahy, a.s.) and some other companies (full list).
RailThe city forms the hub of the Czech railway system, with services to all parts of the Czech Republic and abroad.
Prague has two international railway stations, Hlavní nádraží (sometimes referred to as Wilsonovo nádraží) and Praha-Holešovice. Intercity services also stop at the main stations Praha-Smíchov and Masarykovo nádraží. In addition to these, there are a number of smaller suburban stations. In the future rail should play a greater role in Prague Public Transport System.
AirPrague is served by Ruzyně International Airport, the biggest airport in the Czech Republic and one of the busiest and the most modern in Central and Eastern Europe. It is the hub of the flag carrier, Czech Airlines and of the low-cost airlines SkyEurope and Smart Wings operating throughout Europe. Other airfields in Prague include the city's original airport in the suburb of Kbely, and Letňany which is mainly used for private aviation and domestic flights. Tocna, is located in the southwest part of the City and serves mostly as an aeroclub.
TaxisTaxi services in Prague can be divided into three sectors. There are major taxicab companies, operating call-for-taxi services (radio-taxi) or from regulated taxi stands, where overpricing is rare and regulation mostly in place. There are independent drivers, who make pickups on the street; cheating is mostly associated with these cars. The problem with overcharging is so huge, that it's mentioned in Lonely Planet guide books and it was featured on CNN couple of years ago. Tourists taking taxi in Prague are being advised to be very careful, request a receipt and make sure to know the approximate amount to be charged before entering the cab.
- Prague International Marathon
- Slavia Prague -> UEFA Champions League
- Sparta Prague -> UEFA Cup
- Sazka Arena -> NHL 2008 Opening Game, 2004 Men's World Ice Hockey Championships and Euroleague Final Four
- Strahov Stadium — the second-largest stadium in the world
- Mystic SK8 Cup — World cup of skateboarding
- Prague open — prestige Floorball cup
- Prague cup — annual synchronized skating competition
- and more
The City is also bidding for the 2016 Summer Olympics.
MiscellaneousPrague is also the site of the most important offices and institutions of the Czech Republic and Central Europe.
Prague as a venueRecent major events held in Prague:
International relationsPrague is involved in a number of official as well as unofficial partnerships with other major world cities. The city of Prague also maintains its own EU delegation in Brussels called Prague House.
In Popular culture
- In 1968 as a response to the Soviet Invasion of the city, the Israeli singer Shalom Hanoch wrote a song, also named "Prague", about the invasion which was sung by Arik Einstein. And though it was received badly at first, it later on began to be received more warmly by audiences in Israel and in the Czech republic.
External Links and Readings
- Official Website
- Prague Public Transport Company - including traffic map and search
- The Prague Post - the English-language newspaper in Prague
- Prague tourist information videoportal
- Prague - sights, culture
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